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Exhibitions

Enigma

March 23 - June 8, 2024

Tom Thomson, Melting Ice (detail), c. 1917. Oil on wood panel. Bequest of Thomas James Gibson Henry [nephew of Tom Thomson], on perpetual loan from the Ontario Heritage Trust, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

 

In Melting Ice, as in many of Tom Thomson’s painted sketches, parts of the wood panel surface are left uncovered between brushstrokes. Gaps appear along the sinuous lines of bare birch branches, in the sky, along the surface of the lake, and throughout the thawing shoreline. Instead of the painting feeling unfinished, these spaces embolden the work with greater dimension. By creating these deliberate noncontiguous areas, it is as though Thomson has given each component within the landscape agency to remain mutable; evoking a distinctly visceral sense of ice melting or wind rustling through the branches, just as he would have experienced them in 1917.  

Filling in the gaps around the personal history of Thomson has been an equally fervent endeavor since his mysterious drowning in Canoe Lake later that same year. He died leaving very little insight into what he thought or felt in either written word or interview and most of our understanding of his character has been constructed through the memories of his acquaintances. In the absence of a better understanding of who he was, Thomson’s life and legacy has become like an empty vessel that we have been compelled to fill with our curiosity and conjecture. As Sherill Grace, a scholar of Canadian culture, notes in Inventing Tom Thomson, “it is easy for others to imagine the man and invent a life for him: his outline is there, full of suggestions, but it is empty, inviting others to fill in the gaps.” 

This exhibition brings together a selection of Tom Thomson’s paintings and artifacts alongside works by contemporary artists Marlene Creates and Tim Whiten from the Gallery’s Collection to contemplate the allure of enigmatic narratives and our desire to understand them. 

840 1st Ave W

Owen Sound, ON N4K 4M4

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Gallery Hours:

Tuesday - Friday 12:00pm - 5:00pm

Saturday 10:00am - 5:00pm

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